Thirty years ago there were few options to clearly identify your pet. A collar and tag with your pet’s name and the owner’s phone number was pretty common, but tags and collars can come off or be removed. A tattoo on a dog’s inner ear could be used to prove it’s your dog but there was no way to track down the owner of a lost pet with that.
Years ago, I had a client who had his old Army serial number tattooed on his dog’s inner ear. He could potentially use that number to prove that it was his dog but few people would have figured out what the number was or be able to find the owner with it.
What is a Microchip?
The microchip is a small computer chip that is about the size of a grain of rice that is literally injected under the skin. After the microchip is implanted under the skin, the number of that microchip and the pet owner’s information is registered on a database.
It is important to know that the microchip cannot be used to track your pet if it runs off. It does not have a GPS on it!
If the pet gets lost and then taken to an animal shelter or veterinary hospital they can check for a microchip with a specific scanner. When the microchip is activated by the low frequency radio wave of a microchip scanner, it transmits a number to the scanner. That number is specific to that microchip. The shelter or veterinary hospital can then call an 800 phone number with the microchip number to find the animal’s owner and then contact that person.
What Animals Can be Microchipped?
Dogs and cats are the most common animals to be microchipped but most animals can have a microchip implanted. In addition to dogs, we have implanted microchips into ferrets, birds, rabbits, hedgehogs and some reptiles.
Limitations of Microchipping
In addition to the fact that the microchip cannot be used as a tracking device, the only information that can be obtained from the microchip is its number; the owner’s information is not on the microchip. That information is in the database and is used to re-unite the lost pet with the owner.
We recommend microchips in addition to a name tag on the collar because the microchip can’t fall off, making the return of your animal companion more likely. Though we most commonly do it when animals are spayed or neutered, a microchip can be implanted at any time.